Round up #218: Fire vs Air, help with images?

Round up #218: Fire vs Air, help with images?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Glitch or techno-tulpa?

So, this one is weird, and I thought my readers might be able to help.

I’m reading a pre-publication copy of the sequel to Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg. After I wrote the review I linked there, the author, Derek Swannson, commented on it. I sent my proofreading notes from reading it (as I’ve done with other books). Outside of a bit of e-mail correspondence, we still don’t know each other, but Derek asked me if I would read the upcoming sequel and again give proofreading notes (and perhaps editorial suggestions).

Proofreading is fun for me (it’s multitasking while reading…two things which I think play to my strengths), and I wasn’t given a timeline, so I agreed. After all, I thought parts of the first book were excellent.

Here’s the strange part:

As I was reading the book, shortly after a section that mentioned Akkadian (an ancient language from Mesopotamia, two “pages” of largely non-English text appeared in the book on my Kindle Fire HDX 7″. It replaced some of the narrative.

Given the reality twisting nature of the book, I thought perhaps they were intentional…maybe it represented a psychological or dimensional shift, and that it would be explained to us later.

I e-mailed Derek: that appears not to be the case, and it seems it hasn’t been reported by other people with galley copies.

I took screenshots of the mystery pages. You do that by doing the power button and the volume down* button at the same time…you’ll see an animation of the page to let you know it is happening. I’m going to reproduce them here, but I have to warn you first: if you can read them, the material might include obscenities and explicit content:



I’m not an expert on languages, even though my adult kid is a linguist. The first one looked to me like simplified Chinese, with overlapping characters. The second one sort of looked like Thai, but I wasn’t at all sure.

I thought maybe some of you might know. I did ask Derek’s permission before publishing it here.

It was a good thing I took those screenshots, because it disappeared afterwards!

If I go to home and reopen the book, the text looks normal. I’ve also had it happen where mostly just the font (and the second sample may be just a weird font) changed. Go to home, reopen, and it looks okay.

I have never seen this in any of my other books.

It seems possible (both to Derek and me) that it’s just some sort of glitch. The Kindle Fire has some translation ability (“long press”…hold your finger or stylus on a word for about a second, then tap “Translate”), and perhaps it was just translating the text for some reason.

It also just seems oddly appropriate to the book. 🙂 That’s why I humorously coined a new term for Derek, a “techno-tulpa”. As I understand it, a tulpa is a concept in Buddhism wherein someone brings something into physical being by thinking about it. A “techno-tulpa”, then, would be something you bring into existence in technology by thinking about it…sort of like the old concept of “thoughtography”. I know, I know…some of you (a very, very few) are saying to me right now, “You can’t be Serios.” 😉

Others of you are ready to move on to another story 😉 so I’ll do that. If you do have any insight into those images, I’d appreciate hearing it.

Fire beats Air

That headline sounds like something out of rochambeaux, or perhaps a battle of elementals in a role-playing game (RPG). 😉

Instead, it’s how the reviews seem to be going on the Kindle Fire HDX versus the iPad Air.

That’s not good for Apple: you don’t want your competition to be seen as cheaper and better.

Oh, it certainly doesn’t mean that the Fire is better at everything, but let’s take display quality as one element. That’s a place where Apple was clearly perceived as being a market leader.


c|net story by Brooke Crothers

reports an assessment by DisplayMate that ranks the KFHDX 8.9″ as better than the iPad Air.

In the original

detailed analysis by Dr. Raymond M. Soneira

you’ll see the Fire besting the iPad Air repeatedly (the Google Nexus 10 is included in the comparison, but it is due for an update, being a year behind, and doesn’t really challenge the others).

I strongly recommend the article for those of you who want the technical comparisons. For everybody else, there is this quotation (and it wouldn’t surprise me if you see it excerpted by Amazon):

“Most impressive of all is the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, which has leapfrogged into the best performing Tablet display that we have ever tested, significantly out-performing the iPad Air in Brightness, Screen Reflectance, and high ambient light contrast, plus a first place finish in the very challenging category of Absolute Color Accuracy.”

When you add in Mayday (the live tech help on the Fire), I think we may see Amazon gain quite a bit of marketshare. Doesn’t make me worry about Apple, of course, but it makes me feel even more secure about Amazon’s future in the hardware business.

A reader also sent me this

ZDNet article by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

in a private e-mail (thanks, reader!).

It’s a lot less geeky, comparing things that “regular folks” want to know, like battery life and accessories. The conclusion includes:

“The iPad Air is a great tablet, but the Kindle Fire HDX is better.”

Again, that’s a plus for Amazon…

Buzzfeed: “The 23 Best Parts Of Being A Book Lover”

This one is for fun…

by AriannaRebolini

It doesn’t really focus on e-books, though. Hmm…let me throw in a few of those:

  • Never being without something to read
  • Having the freedom to read from five different books…on the same errand
  • Not having to worry about cracking the spine
  • Sharing books with your family…across the country
  • Reading classic books from around the world…for free

Mackenzie Bezos gives The Everything Store 1-star

This does strike me as a bit odd.

In Amazon’s review guidelines, they say that this is not allowed:

“Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)”

I think it’s reasonable to suggest that a review by the Significant Other of the subject of a biography would fall into that category.

That’s why it feels a bit strange that the first ever 1-star review of

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

on Amazon comes from MacKenzie Bezos:

1-star reviews of The Everything Store

There are two other 1-star reviews: one dated the next day, and one which references MacKenzie Bezos’ review.

The book averages 4.4 out of 5 stars with 52 reviews (it’s worth noting that MacKenzie Bezos’ review has 78 comments…more than there are reviews of the book itself).

I’m certainly not arguing that MacKenzie Bezos shouldn’t express an opinion…even publicly. I think a dialog is great for the readers. I’m just not sure that a customer review is the right place for it, given the guidelines. Balancing that, though, I have to admit that I like reading Jeff Bezos’ own reviews…and arguably, the Amazon CEO has a financial interest in the success or failure of any products Amazon sells. That seems a bit more removed than this, though.

What do you think? How important is it to Apple that tech reviewers think their products are the best? What are the best things about being a reader (or specifically, an e-reader) for you? Is it legitimate that MacKenzie Bezos do a customer review of a book about Jeff Bezos? What are those images from the Crash Gordon book? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

* This might be me, but I always feel like the volume rocker is backwards on the Kindle Fire. With the screen facing me, and the camera on my left, I push the left-hand button and the bar extends to the right, and the right-hand button and the bar shrinks to my left. The buttons “go the right way” if I have the Kindle Fire upside down from that (with the camera on my right), but that seems to be “wrong way round”. For one thing, Amazon’s own Origami cover opens like a book (moving the cover to your left) only in the first position. Anybody else feel like that? Maybe the Origami cover was designed for a right-to-left language…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them


7 Responses to “Round up #218: Fire vs Air, help with images?”

  1. Harold Says:

    I believe the odd characters you posted are possibly the result of an inaccurate font substitution process. The open rectangles indicate that no character exists for the substituted text in whatever text it was trying to emulate on conversion. The glyphs may indicate that the substituted text was converted to the wrong font, a dingbat type. Similar “stuff” happens in Acrobat and word processing files when the receiving computer does not have a compatible font installed and the application tries to do an approximation conversion (best guess). This is why we who send Acrobat files embed our fonts into the document unless we know that such a font exists on the other end where the file will be opened. It may be that Kindle auto-corrected itself in latter conversions … if indeed that is possible. Author used a font that Kindle does not recognize, Kindle substituted “not the best” replica font (closest match), and on second try found a better one.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      Good possibility! It’s a little weird to me that the font would have varied on various pages like that: I know that it happened mid-sentence…it seems strange to me that it wouldn’t have either messed up the whole book that was in one font, or that the publisher would have used a different font for different pages when the content was continuous…

  2. jjhitt Says:

    “I think that I can help you to pass an hour in an interesting and profitable manner,” said Holmes, drawing his chair up to the table, and spreading out in front of him the various papers upon which were recorded the antics of the dancing men….

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Thanks for the link to the book lover article. I think many of the best parts of being a book lover apply to Kindle. I’ve never gone to a book store at midnight to purchase a new release. One Kindle advantage for me is having a new release automatically download at midnight without having to go out in the dark and/or wait in line hoping the bookstore doesn’t sell out before you get there. And I really don’t understand the whole “old book smell” thing. Most old books just smell musty to me. They tend to make me sneeze. I do kind of miss book plates. It would be nice if there were some way to insert a digital book plate into Kindle books, but it would probably be too complex. For those who have Kindles without special offers, it would be nice if the current crop of screen savers could be replaced by classic book plates. I would even consider purchasing a personalized batch of screen savers. And of course, the biggest advantage of a paper book is you never get the “time to recharge your battery” notice when you get to the juiciest part of the book.

    • jjhitt Says:

      As best I understand it: Lignin, a wood pulp product found in paper, breaks down over time into something very chemically similar to vanilla. The “old book smell” is supposedly vanilla. My own personal experience is that mildew totally overpowers that smell with it’s own unique aroma.

  4. Edward Boyhan Says:

    The first set of characters are certainly kanji — whether they represent anything other than a bunch of random ideographs, I couldn’t say. The second looks like no terrestrial language I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot) — maybe something invented for some extra-galactic space opera?

    Actually, my first thought on the second was that maybe it was some custom font like Windings. In any event one possibility is that some regular English text got their Unicode font specifiers corrupted — so the device is displaying a few paragraphs using the wrong fonts

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